Blog & Resources

"A new member recruited today ...

… counts three times more than one recruited in May.”

Toastmasters International — Where Leaders Are Made … And the most clever leaders graciously "borrow” best practices from around the globe.

Toastmasters International — Where Leaders Are Made … And the most clever leaders graciously "borrow” best practices from around the globe.

This I Believe ...

Transparency + Engagement + Best Practices ==> An organization that truly empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.

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Tis the Season for Strategic Envisioning. Yes, a Picture's Worth a Thousand Words.

Q: What does a District trio (quartet or quintet) do between July 1st and the International Convention?

A: There’s actually quite a long list of TO DOs to consider …

  1. Area Director must be recruited and perhaps even one or two Division Director positions must be filled.

  2. Then these district officers must be trained.

  3. June-August club officer training needs to be conducted (a.k.a., “summer TLI” in the Northern Hemisphere or “winter TLI” in the Southern Hemisphere).

  4. There’s “homework” that’s due in preparation for the district leadership team training that’s held just before the convention.

  5. And then there’s an opportunity for a little Strategic Envisioning.

What’s Strategic Envisioning? Simply stated this is the BIG PICTURE thinking that must be done by the District, Program Quality, and Club Growth Directors around the world.

  • How will you and your teams identify what projects, programs, and new initiatives will best serve our members?

  • Which of last year’s projects, programs, or initiatives are worth continuing? Which may need to be modified? And which discontinued?

  • How will you share this vision with your club officers, area and division directors, and district staff? When will you do this? What communication channels will you use?

Here’s an example of just one district’s strategic vision. This visual was created as a large wall-sized, hand-drawn mural and was later “cleaned up” and shared as a one-page document that could be e-mailed or shared via website and social media.

NOTE: The scribe for this exercise was a professional graphic facilitator (yours truly) who happened to also serve as the Immediate Past District Governor. This executive retreat or off-site was hosted at a quiet lake house by Past International Director Joe Jarzombek. Joe and John co-facilitated this “skull session” engaging all the district leaders as they brainstormed and prioritized their thinking for the year. The attentive reader will see that this poster is dated June 6, 2010 and (perhaps) rivaled the historic plans for D-Day. But that’s a topic for the tall tales contest season and to be investigated in Denver during interviews in the candidates’ corner.

Here’s District 27’s Vision for 2010-2011 as they prepared to become the reformed districts 27 and 29. This mural was created collaboratively by the TOP FIVE assisted by the IPDG and a PID serving as co-facilitators.

Here’s District 27’s Vision for 2010-2011 as they prepared to become the reformed districts 27 and 29. This mural was created collaboratively by the TOP FIVE assisted by the IPDG and a PID serving as co-facilitators.

17 and counting ...

While campaigning in one of the districts in Region 7, a past district governor commented and then asked, “I like your tie. How many countries have you actually visited?”

I replied, “Thank you.” But his question caught me off guard as I hadn’t paused to identify the country of origin for the flags woven into the material. Not to be stymied I replied, “I don’t actually know. But I’ll get back to you ASAP with the answer.”

So what’s the bottom line?

Seventeen and counting.

I have no idea how many new countries I’ll be able to visit should our members elect me to serve as an International Director. But don’t be surprised when your club is called and you hear, “I’m traveling and found your club meets tomorrow. Is there a role I might play in your meeting? Could you make a little time for me to speak as a guest? Or perhaps you’ll at least call on me during Table Topics.”

I’m curious … How many countries have you visited? What are some of your favorite stories as a Traveling Toastmaster? Please, comment here or post your stories to social media. We are truly a global organization and we’ve oh-so-much to share.

Cultural Fusion

What I like about being a member of Toastmasters is that it’s an opportunity to learn about oh-so-many cultures. If you travel — for business or pleasure — you can visit a club and participate as a guest in the Table Topics portion of just about any meeting. There’s a good chance you’ll be asked to comment on what you thought about your visit. And if you’ve planned ahead — coordinating with the Vice President of Education — you may even get a chance to become a guest or featured speaker.

Q: What do you get when you mix an adventurous Toastmasters from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with a British-inspired menu prepared by a chef from Silicon Valley with a double-decker Polish bus? A: Lunch and so  much more.

Q: What do you get when you mix an adventurous Toastmasters from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with a British-inspired menu prepared by a chef from Silicon Valley with a double-decker Polish bus? A: Lunch and so much more.

The United States of America, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Belgium, Turkey, … , the list goes on. These are a few of the countries I’ve had the pleasure to live in or visit. Additionally, I’ve met oh-so-many people from other parts of the world while attending several international conventions as a Toastmaster.

Please share your stories of cultural fusion here. And if you’ve time, please suggest how you think members of the board of directors should address policy-making for a truly global organization.

#BeBrave #BeBold #BlazeYourTrail

PS: The above photo was taken during a reconnaissance for the annual “wine safari” held by members of the Traveling TasteMasters Toastmasters club. This advanced club meets monthly at restaurants, pubs, bistros, and wineries to practice communications and leadership skills and enjoy the fellowship of other adventurous souls. Please share your stories of equally adventurous clubs and fun-filled venues.

Q: What's more powerful than Dragon's Breath? A: Toastmasters.

Learned all about breaching barriers in the Army, but never have I seen the power of dragon’s breath! Fire that destroys stone?! Hmmm, we need more STEM instruction in our schools, yes?

Reportedly, our founder Ralph C. Smedley once said that joining Toastmasters was like enrolling into a college course for all that members learn from their fellow members. How might we improve the educational experience of today’s youth? How might we enhance the general knowledge of our members and by extension the know how of our communities?

Hosting a Speechcraft and/or launching a Youth Leadership Program directly extend the network of potential members and future clubs. I think this is an outstanding outcome which the Pathways program has brought to all who aspire to become a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM).

What other strategic partnerships and promotional opportunities do you think our board of International Directors should consider and TI WHQs should investigate?

Please post a comment if you’ve ideas on how to have these ideas “catch fire.”

#BlazeYourTrail

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Follow Me!

I too learned a few lessons while at the U.S. Army Infantry School. I learned that a leader …

  • is mission focused

  • takes care of the men and women who are assigned to them

  • that RANGERS lead the way, and

  • that a paratrooper will go “all the way and then some.”

But perhaps former Secretary of State Colin Powell said it best.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocSw1m30UBI

The essence of leadership is found in the trust that followers put in their leaders.

I hope that I’ve earned your trust. I hope that you’ll follow me, if only out of curiosity.

In Denver, I need your vote. I promise years of selfless service to you and our fellow members.

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#MyWhy

As one of the ILC-nominated Candidates for International Director, I’ve been visiting districts within Region 7 during this winter’s club officer training season. And because club officer training is about — well, club officer training — I’ve focused primarily on presenting a leadership elective entitled: “Discover Your Genius.” This workshop has been well received and many attendees have actually thanked me for visiting them and/or they’ve ordered a copy of my book upon which this workshop is based. You see, I believe there’s a bit of genius in us all. But that’s a topic for another time. I digress …

Inevitably, there’s always one person who corners me during a break or at the coffee bar to ask, “So why do you want to serve as an international director?” Here’s my official answer …

“Several years ago after surviving a heart attack and successfully completing cardiac rehabilitation, I decided to re-invent myself. I went back to school, became a professional certified coach, and resolved that for the remaining days I have on this earth I would do my best to help others become their very best. If we aspire to truly empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders, then I believe my personal mission aligns quite nicely with the Toastmasters International mission.”

Yes, that’s a bit long-winded. Sorry, I’m a DTM (Don’t Time Me). Here’s the short answer …

“I want to serve. I want to help others become their very best. I believe my life’s mission is aligned with the mission of Toastmasters International.”

So what’s your why? I challenge you to share your story with the world and help inspire others!

Toastmasters International wants to hear your story. It could motivate others to join the path to maximizing their potential. There’s a #MyWhy-campaign that’s on-going and detailed instructions on the TI-website on how to contribute to this campaign. Everyone’s story is unique. Are you ready to motivate the next wave of Toastmasters?

I am.

Join me on the path to ToastMASTERY! … And, “Yes, I need your vote at the convention in Denver.”

To lead is to serve and to serve is to lead. That’s my WHY.

To lead is to serve and to serve is to lead. That’s my WHY.

PS: For all those who read this post and subscribe to this blog, I’ll send to you a code that allows you to download — for FREE — a copy of my e-book, Facilitation Genius: Illuminating Brilliance in Your Organization.

Note: You must supply your e-mail address for me to send to you the “key” that unlocks this gift.